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Jul 18, 2007 06:25 AM

Cluck Grunt and Low Review

Went last night with friends in hopes of some good bbq and a chance to catch up in a lively atmosphere. Can't say I'll be heading back any time soon.

Things started well - great smells, busy restaurant, fun music. As one of our group of four is from out of town we did have that time after sitting down where we were talking and not paying enough attention to the menu. Our server came over to ask if we were ready several times. I like we weren't forgotten, but it was several times within 10 minutes or so. Menu is short, but no sampling platter was on offer which I thought was a shame. We decided we would each order a different dish and share around to compensate. When we went to order though, we were then told that there was no cornbread or beans for side dishes, something that could have been mentioned in the numerous pre vists our server had made. When I asked if we might use a smaller salad as a side dish I was answered with a curt 'no'. Apparently they had been out all day and yet hadn't come up with a substitution or compromise. That left coleslaw, potato salad and dirty rice as sides. When I asked what the most popular dish was I got a shrug and 'pork ribs' response. There was no attempt to elaborate or offer me anything more to go by.
Just after we ordered, server came back to tell us there were beans after all and would we like him to bring two orders with the food. Of course we would.
Food came out almost instantly which was a little surprising and everything seemed warm, but not hot. Potatoes in the salad were practically crunchy, coleslaw was swimming in liquid. Beans were okay (but really, if they were out all day, where did they suddenly come from?) and dirty rice was, again, okay. Beef ribs were tender and fairly decent, the sweet and sticky pork ribs were not sticky enough though the meat was alright. Dry ribs are not my favourite, but the others found them to be 'pretty good'. Half chicken was tender but didn't distinguish itself much from Swiss Chalet - just a slightly different spice mix. I'm not deliberately being vague about flavours - they were just so devoid of obvious descriptors. The taste did not live up to the aromas.
Our server cleared dishes away from 3 of us while one was still eating. Came back a few minutes later to clear away side dishes while the 4th was still eating. It happened so fast that we couldn't stop him - the 4th said he should probably finish anyway, but it would have been nice for him to come to that conclusion without the food being whisked away.
Bill came on an American Express tray. Put out AmEx card to be told they don't take AmEx. Okaaaaay.
I realize the place is new, and perhaps they need to sort out their inventory needs, but there was no need to leave us uninformed of menu changes and no excuse to not offer a backup plan for sides or even an apology. All through the meal, the music volume was raised so that by the time we were finishing, we had to shout across a table of 4 to be heard over Johnny Cash.
I would have to hear there had been a massive improvement in taste and service before I ventured back.

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  1. The one constant I have heard about this restaurant is that they are out of cornbread. I wonder if they have it at all?

    2 Replies
    1. re: robgm

      Finally, an opportunity to real southern BBQ in TO and owners with good credentials. But so far, I haven't read one positive thing about this place. What a disappointment.

      However, I'm waiting two months and then I'll give it a try, but I'm not holding my breath. If the food is so-so right out of the gate, after all the work they've done pulling the concept and place together, it's not looking good.

      1. re: acd123

        I feel the exact same way acd. I went on day 2 and decided to give them a month or two. It is no home run that is for sure. But they are smart people and they can surely improve the product. I am still routing for them!!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Seems we both had a similar experience.

        I wanted to write my own detailed review this morning, but you beat me to it. The food was horrific. The Kansas City Sweet and Sticky Pork ribs were so dry as to be inedible. Honestly, I wouldn't have fed them to my dog. They had clearly been cooked VERY early on and then before serving them to me, had them doused with bbq sauce to cover this up. The potato salad was crunchy, too heavy on the cumin, and appeared to be yesterday's batch in the freshness department. Ditto for the coleslaw. And like others have experienced, no cornbread. Wow, what a big surprise.

        I am so completely fed up with the "celebrity" chefs in this town. The so-called pedigreed chefs; Paul Boehmer and Marc Thuet? Give me a break. DO NOT TALK THE TALK IF YOU CAN'T WALK THE WALK.

        I think a bunch of lawyers decided to get together and play restaurant cause they were bored, with too much "money" on their hands if you catch my drift.

        And ok, I love the man in black, but nothing innovative in the music department there. How bout playing some Muddy Waters, R.L. Burnside, or Ry Cooder to go with the Q food.

        I give this place 2 months, tops.

        1. I ate there last night too. The potato salad was seriously crunchy and they were out of cornbread which we only learned after we tried to order it. I found the dry rub ribs to be very dry. I had two ribs that I couldn't pull (break?) apart - bad sign. I was scared that if I pulled harder one of them was going to go flying across the room. I live nearby and love bbq and really want to see this place succeed. I liked the friendly staff and room, but I think the kitchen needs to check the food before it goes out.

          3 Replies
          1. re: villars

            Reread my post, I apologize...seems I'm suffering from some rageahol.

            The service was indeed friendly, so no complaints at all there.

            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              Even though I think it is too soon to be so harsh and predict 2 months life for this type of resto, I have to agree that the rage is justified. Believing that Paul Boehmer and Marc Thuet are truly involved in the kitchen and recipes, I expect the first weeks to be good-to-great, and then in a month, great-to-fantastic.

              I am hoping we can still get to fantastic in August!

            2. re: villars

              I tried this place last weekend and I wasn't impressed. The ribs were cold. Obviously they get thrown on when an order is placed but they didn't get thrown on for nearly long enough. Both rib types were totally forgettable - far inferior to Phils in my opinion (and I'm not a big Phil's fan).

              Service was fine but way to many staff wandering around with nothing to do. I can't imagine the ribs getting better since I think they have fundamental problems that won't be solved with time and ironing out the kinks. I might try them again in a couple of months depending on what I hear on this board.

            3. The original comment has been removed